Challenging Authority: The Giver

Students explore the topic of "coming of age" through the story of one boy's life in a dystopian future, and his growing understanding that the world around him is not what it appears.

Unit Summary

In this unit, students read Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal–winning novel The Giver. This novel, which has quickly become part of the essential canon of young adult fiction, is set in a highly controlled, seemingly perfect, futuristic world. The society has been stripped of colors, love, pain, and conflict by converting to the notion of “Sameness,” a philosophy that eliminates any variability in the world. The novel explores twelve-year-old Jonas’ experience with memories of the past—a time much like the reader’s present day—in which people still had the freedom to make decisions for themselves. Jonas struggles to cope with all his new overwhelming emotions and must decide whether individual freedoms are worth experiencing pain and suffering.

Students will continue their interrogation of questions around personal choice and self-determination by reading a series of articles about parental control over children’s screen use. Considering the risks and benefits of screen time for young adults, students will culminate the unit with an essay in which they take a position on the question: should parents protect their children from making poor choices around screen usage?

In addition to being a cornerstone of the genre of dystopian young adult fiction, The Giver is a powerful coming-of-age story. In spite of the unfamiliar setting, students will strongly relate to twelve-year-old Jonas’ developing understanding of the world around him. Over the course of the text, Jonas progressively loses his innocence, coming to realize that ignorance is not, in fact, bliss. This text will provide ample opportunity for students to grapple with the essential question of the 6th grade curriculum: how do challenges and hardships shape a young person’s identity and understanding of the world?

Subscribe to Fishtank Plus to unlock access to additional resources for this unit, including:

  • Unit Launch
  • Enhanced Lesson Plans
  • Student Handout Editor
  • Google Classroom Integration
  • Vocabulary Package
  • Fluency Package
  • Data Analysis Package
 

Texts and Materials

Some of the links below are Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click and make a purchase, we receive a small portion of the proceeds, which supports our non-profit mission.

Core Materials

  • Book: The Giver by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers, 1993)    —  760L

Supporting Materials

Assessment

This assessment accompanies Unit 2 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

?

  • What is a utopia? What is a dystopia?
  • Is it worth sacrificing knowledge and wisdom for a life of peace, contentment, and ease?
  • Should people be protected from making poor choices?

Vocabulary

?

Text-based

anguish apprehensive assuage compulsive disillusioned ecstatic excruciating implore impose obsolete transgression vague vivid

Root/Affix

-topia dys- u/ou-

Academic

anecdote central idea climax conclusion exposition falling action juxtaposition mood rising action tension thematic topic theme tone

General

conform dehumanize dissent dystopia futuristic illusion oppress restrict relentless regulation surveillance utopia

Related Teacher Tools:

Content Knowledge and Connections

?

Future Fishtank ELA Connections

The remainder of the 6th-grade units will address questions around coming of age, and also around the way that significant life events and relationships shape who a person becomes; the ideas that students will begin thinking about in this unit will transfer across the texts we read this year.

Notes for Teachers

?

  • Students should regularly return to the definitions of utopia/dystopia that they learned in the first lesson of this unit, particularly as different aspects of Jonas’ community become evident. Because there are several big “reveals” in the text, try to keep them secret as much as possible (some students may have seen the recent movie, so ask that they not spoil the book for those who haven’t seen it).
  • You may wish to show the movie version of this text at the end of the unit, and have students reflect on similarities and differences between the text and film.
  • There are very mild references to sexuality in The Giver. Students may find the scenes that describe war and “Release” upsetting. Be mindful of your students’ own experiences with death.
  • The articles about screen time—and particularly the negative effects of screen time—may be a sensitive topic for students and parents. Remind students that each parent makes their own decisions around what is best for their child.

Lesson Map

1

  • “How to...”

  • “Dystopias”

    RI.6.2

Explain the characteristics, purpose, and development of the genre of dystopian fiction.

2

  • The Giver — Chapters 1-2

    RL.6.5

Explain how specific words, sentences, and passages in the first two chapters of The Giver help establish the setting.

3

  • The Giver — Chapters 3-4

    RL.6.4

    L.6.4.a

    L.6.4.d

Determine the meaning of unknown words in The Giver and explain the impact of specific words and phrases on mood and tone.

4

  • The Giver — Chapters 1-6

    RL.6.3

Draw conclusions what kind of person Jonas is, based on the way he responds to specific events and his environment in Chapters 1–6 of The Giver.

5

  • The Giver — Chapters 7-8

    RL.6.5

Explain how specific passages from Chapter 7 and 8 develop the setting and plot of the text overall.

6

  • The Giver — Chapters 9-10

    RL.6.5

Explain the role of specific sentences and passages from Chapters 9–10 of The Giver in developing the setting and plot.

7

  • The Giver — Chapters 11-12

    RL.6.3

Explain how Jonas responds and changes as he visits The Giver.

8

  • The Giver — Chapter 13

    RL.6.2

Explain how author Lois Lowry develops several central ideas in Chapter 13 of The Giver.

9

  • The Giver — Chapters 14 & 15

    RL.6.4

Identify the mood or tone of specific passages of Chapters 14 and 15 of The Giver by analyzing word choice.

10

  • The Giver — Chapters 16-17

    RL.6.3

Explain how specific events in the text change Jonas’ perspective and behavior.

11

  • The Giver — Chapters 18-19

    RL.6.4

Explain how specific words and phrases develop mood and tone in Chapters 18 and 19 of The Giver.

12

  • The Giver — Chapters 20-21

    RL.6.3

    RL.6.5

Explain how Jonas has changed as a result of the realizations he makes after the climax of the text.

13

  • The Giver — Chapters 22-23

    RL.6.3

    RL.6.5

Describe the changes in Jonas’ character at the resolution of The Giver.

14

  • The Giver

    RL.6.2

Determine overall themes for the novel The Giver and provide details that support those themes.

15

Discussion

  • The Giver

    SL.6.1.c

Engage in a Socratic Seminar with the classmates, demonstrating their understanding of the text by responding to questions and providing evidence to support their ideas.

16

Narrative Writing

    W.6.1.b

Explain the expectations of the writing task and gather strong evidence appropriate to the prompt.

17

Narrative Writing

    W.6.1.a

    W.6.1.b

Craft strong thesis statements and effective body paragraphs.

18

Narrative Writing

    W.6.1.d

Complete a strong introductory paragraph in which they establish a formal style, and recognize and correct any lapses in formal tone.

19

Narrative Writing

    L.6.1.a

    L.6.1.d

Use pronouns appropriately in writing.

20

  • “The Harmful...”

    RI.6.8

Identify arguments an author makes and explain whether or not claims are supported by reasoning and evidence.

21

  • “Less Screen...”

  • “Why the Screen...”

    RI.6.8

Identify arguments and claims authors make and explain whether or not claims are supported by reasoning and evidence.

22

  • “Kids Must...”

    RI.6.5

Explain how specific sections of an article fit into the overall structure of the text and helps to develop meaning.

23

  • “Don't Limit...”

    RI.6.5

Explain how specific sections of an article fit into the overall structure of the text and help to develop meaning.

24

  • “3 Fears...”

    RI.6.8

Identify arguments and claims authors make, and explain whether or not claims are supported by reasoning and evidence.

25

  • “The Harmful...”

  • “Less Screen...”

  • “Why the Screen...”

  • “Don't Limit...”

  • “Kids Must...”

  • “3 Fears...”

Create a poster of pros and cons of parents limiting kids’ screen time and appropriately cite evidence.

26

Writing

  • “Less Screen...”

  • “The Harmful...”

  • “Why the Screen...”

  • “Kids Must...”

  • “Don't Limit...”

  • “3 Fears...”

    W.6.1.a

    W.6.1.b

Explain the expectations of the writing task, write a clear thesis statement and begin to craft strong
body paragraphs.

27

Writing

  • “Less Screen...”

  • “The Harmful...”

  • “Why the Screen...”

  • “Kids Must...”

  • “Don't Limit...”

  • “3 Fears...”

    W.6.1.a

    W.6.1.e

Write effective introduction and conclusion paragraphs.

28

Writing

  • “Less Screen...”

  • “The Harmful...”

  • “Why the Screen...”

  • “Kids Must...”

  • “Don't Limit...”

  • “3 Fears...”

    W.6.1.c

Establish and maintain a formal style and use words to clarify their reasoning.

29

Writing

  • “Less Screen...”

  • “The Harmful...”

  • “Why the Screen...”

  • “Kids Must...”

  • “Don't Limit...”

  • “3 Fears...”

    W.6.5

    L.6.1.c

    L.6.1.d

Use pronouns appropriately in their writing and incorporate any changes suggested by the instructor.

30

2 days

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.6.1.a — Ensure that pronouns are in the proper case (subjective, objective, possessive).

  • L.6.1.c — Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in pronoun number and person.

  • L.6.1.d — Recognize and correct vague pronouns (i.e., ones with unclear or ambiguous antecedents).

  • L.6.1.e — Recognize variations from standard English in their own and others' writing and speaking, and identify and use strategies to improve expression in conventional language.

  • L.6.4.a — Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word's position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

  • L.6.4.d — Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.6.2 — Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

  • RI.6.5 — Analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas.

  • RI.6.8 — Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.6.2 — Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

  • RL.6.3 — Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

  • RL.6.4 — Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

  • RL.6.5 — Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.6.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.6.1.a — Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.

  • SL.6.1.c — Pose and respond to specific questions with elaboration and detail by making comments that contribute to the topic, text, or issue under discussion.

  • SL.6.4 — Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

Writing Standards
  • W.6.1 — Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

  • W.6.1.a — Introduce claim(s) and organize the reasons and evidence clearly.

  • W.6.1.b — Support claim(s) with clear reasons and relevant evidence, using credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.

  • W.6.1.c — Use words, phrases, and clauses to clarify the relationships among claim(s) and reasons.

  • W.6.1.d — Establish and maintain a formal style.

  • W.6.1.e — Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from the argument presented.

  • W.6.5 — With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.